UBC Child Custody Research

What is equal shared parenting?

  • 1) The primary recommendation of the report is the establishment of a legally rebuttable physical joint custody presumption for custody dispute, also known as the “shared parental responsibility” approach. Shared parental responsibility is defined as children spending at least 40 per cent of their time with each parent after separation and divorce.

  • 2) Children of divorce need both parents responsibly involved in their lives, with social institutions supporting parents in their respective roles. The present “winner-take-all” sole custody approach, applied to cases where family violence is not a factor, removes one fit and loving parent.

  • 3) In Canada, mothers initiate two-thirds of child custody proceedings, and there is a clear imbalance in the awards of full custody of children to mothers.

  • 4) When judges become involved in divorce cases, shared parenting is judged not to be in children’s best interests; sole maternal custody remains the norm in judicial determinations.

  • 5) A less adversarial approach to divorce proceedings is desperately needed in Canada, as the current adversarial “winner takes all” approach is failing children and their families. The incidence of false domestic violence allegations raises dramatically in situations where adversarial means are used to “win” court-ordered care and control of children. Such outcomes have profound long-term consequences for children and their development.

  • 6) Lawyers and judges, who are not professionally trained in child development and family dynamics, continue to make child custody determinations largely without the benefit of credible social science evidence. These decisions regarding child custody and access are most often made without reference to research on child development, although this research directly concerns children’s needs and “best interests.”

  • 7) Children’s needs and interests are related to, yet distinct from, those of their parents, and that these needs, physical and psychological, social and spiritual, should be used as the foundation to determine their “best interests.”

  • 8) The disengagement and alienation of non-custodial fathers (and some mothers) from their children’s lives are well documented.

  • 9) Children who are deprived of meaningful relationships with one of their parents are at greater risk psychologically, even when they are able to maintain relationships with the other parent. Children are more likely to attain their psychological potential when they are able to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with both parents, whether the two parents live together or not.

  • 10) Children of divorced families frequently exhibit behavioral difficulties, poor self-esteem, and depression, as well as poor school performance.

    A) Children under the age of five are the most adversely affected by the divorce transition. They manifest vulnerability to depression, confusion about the nature of families and interpersonal relationships, a tendency to blame themselves for the divorce, regression in behavior and general development, a fear of being sent away or replaced, joyless play, a preoccupation with trying to fit objects together, and a yearning for the absent parent – and they are the group most at risk of losing contact with non-custodial fathers.

    B) Early latency-age children exhibit a pervasive sadness and sense of loss, feelings of fear and insecurity, acute longing for the absent parent / intense desire for the reconciliation of their parents – believing the intact family is absolutely necessary for their continued safety and growth.

    C) Late latency-age children evidence feelings of shame and embarrassment, active attempts to reconcile their parents while trying to break up any new social relationships, divided loyalties and taking sides between the parents, conflicting feelings of grief and intense anger – usually directed toward the custodial parent (especially by boys), and a two-level functioning (hiding their painful feelings in order to present a courageous front to the world).

    D) Adolescents show continuing anger, sadness, a sense of loss and betrayal, shame and embarrassment, and a concern about their own future marriages and relationships.

  • 11) In recent years, studies have examined what specific factors associated with divorce most trouble children. The studies have concluded that the absence of the non-custodial parent is a very significant factor; they describe the intense longing of children for their non-custodial fathers.

  • 12) Studies have found that two factors, the amount and severity of conflict between the parents, and the degree to which children are able to maintain meaningful relationships with each parent, play a major role in determining the outcome of divorce for children. They also found that associated with the prolonged distress of children after divorce are children being the focus of parental conflicts, children experiencing loyalty conflicts, the poor emotional health of either parent, lack of social supports available to parents, poor quality of parenting, lack of or inappropriate communication to children about the divorce, and child poverty.

  • 13) No studies have found that children in sole custody fare better in their psychological adjustment than children in joint custody families, although Clarke-Stewart and Hayward (1996) and Warshak (1992) found that children (especially boys) did significantly better in paternal custody than in maternal custody situations. Children in father custody had the advantage over children in maternal custody of maintaining a more positive relationship with the nonresidential parent.

  • 14) Sole maternal custody often results in father absence, and father absence is associated with the following:

    A) 85 per cent of youth in prison are fatherless;
    B) 71 per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless;
    C) 90; per cent of runaway children are fatherless;
    D) Fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of depression and suicide,
    E) Fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of delinquency,
    F) Fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of promiscuity and teen pregnancy,
    G) Fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of behavioral problems
    H) Fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of substance abuse.
    I) Fatherless youth are more likely to be victims of exploitation and abuse,
    J) The Journal of Ethnology and Sociobiology recently reported that preschoolers not living with both of their biological parents (in two-parent homes and equal shared parenting situations after divorce) are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused.
    K) Finally, father absence through divorce is strongly associated with diminished self-concepts in children.

  • 15) Children of divorce want equal time with their parents, and consider shared parenting to be in their best interests. Seventy percent of children of divorce believe that equal amounts of time with each parent is the best living arrangement for children, and children who had equal time arrangements have the best relations with each of their parents after divorce.

  • 16) Not only do children of divorce want equal time, but equal time works. A review of 33 major North American studies comparing sole with joint physical custody arrangements has shown that children in joint custody arrangements fare significantly better on all adjustment measures than children who live in sole custody arrangements.

  • 17) Equal Parenting works for parents too, as inter-parental conflict decreases over time in shared custody arrangements, and increases in sole custody arrangements. Inter-parental cooperation increases over time in shared custody arrangements, and decreases in sole custody arrangements.

  • 18) Both U.S. and Canadian research indicates that mothers and fathers working outside the home now spend about the same amount of time caring for their children. According to research by Health Canada, on average each week mothers devote 11.1 hours to childcare; fathers devote 10.5 hours. According to Statistics Canada (Marshall, 2006), men, although still less involved in primary childcare, have significantly increased their participation.

  • 19) Suicide rates are reported to be of “epidemic” proportions among separated and divorced fathers struggling to maintain a parenting relationship with their children, and false allegations and abuse of the legal system has been noted in non-custodial father suicide cases (such as the widely reported case of Darren White).

  • 20) No studies have examined the impact of legal abuse; that is, using a legal advantage to remove a parent from a child’s life via sole custody, and subsequent parental alienation. Uprooting children in this manner and alienating the parent may themselves be forms of child abuse, as suggested by Justice Konigsberg of the B.C. Supreme Court (commenting on the Gettliffe case).

  • 21) Canada has maintained a maternal custody preference throughout most of its history, as the legal environment relating to child custody has been mainly shaped and controlled through judge-made law, legal concepts and presumptions developed though precedent rather than by legislation.

  • 22) The latest data from Statistics Canada (2005, 2004), which examines divorce and child custody outcomes from 2003 and 2002, indicate that 38 per cent of all marriages are likely to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary. In cases involving dependent children, in 2003 (based on Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings data on court orders), custody was awarded to mothers in 49.5 per cent of cases, and to fathers in only 8.5 per cent of cases (Statistics Canada, 2005).

  • 23) Joint custody is virtually non-existent in judge-adjudicated cases. For many years, the vast majority of contested or litigated custody awards have been made solely to mothers. Canadian courts, according to the latest court file analysis data, continue to grant maternal custody in the majority of contested cases. The Evaluation of the Divorce Act (Department of Justice, 1990) found, in an analysis of the 1988 court file data, that where there was a trial, custody was awarded to mothers in 77 per cent of cases and to fathers in only 8.6 per cent.

  • 24) Recent unpublished research of Ontario Court of Appeal judgments provides evidence indicating that when children are living with their mothers at the time of the Court of Appeal child custody hearings, it is extremely rare for the courts to upset the status quo. When they are living with their fathers the status quo is not such a potent force. Courts are more likely to disturb the status quo when children are living with their father.

  • 25) Shared parenting is much more frequent when settled outside the court.

  • 26) The 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory, states “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities, or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” In addition, the UN Convention, in Article 5, emphasizes the primacy of parents in their children’s lives and states “Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents,” and in Article 9, it states “Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child”.

  • 27) Two key principles underlying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child are that parents have the primary responsibility for nurturing children, and the role of governments and communities is to support children and their families; these are both seen to be “in the best interests of children.” Article 19 of the Convention refers to needed measures to protect children from all forms of violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation—and it refers to actual violence and maltreatment, not risks of violence and maltreatment. To remove child custody from a parent because of “risk” rather than proof of harm is not in keeping with the Convention. Article 12 states that the views of the child be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child, on all matters affecting the child. Finally, Article 8 stipulates the child’s right to preserve his or her identity, as all children are entitled to have their human rights respected, including children of separation and divorce.

  • 28) Although the Divorce Act identifies “the best interests of the child” as the sole criterion in child custody determination and reflects the primacy of parents in the child’s life, it does not identify the specific “needs and other circumstances of the child” that must be considered in determining custodial arrangements, and thus the standard remains indeterminate and subject to judicial discretion. In addition, no mention is made of the primacy of both parents in the child’s life. A custody determination pursuant to divorce is not so much a decision to award custody, but a decision regarding from whom to remove it.

  • 29) Courts in all provinces in Canada continue to award child custody to one parent only, in the great majority of cases, despite the legal recognition that when both parents reside together, custody is held equally by both of them. Sole physical custody (or “primary residence”) to one parent and access to the other is the normal court practice across all provinces, including litigated cases designated as “joint custody.”

  • 30) The majority of custody and access policy research papers and reports of the Canadian federal government, as well as of some provincial governments, have neither sought to clarify the “best interests of the child” standard nor have addressed the issue of children’s need for both parents after divorce. Most have focused to a much greater degree on the issue of child support.

  • 31) A plethora of federal government reports on child custody and access have been completed over the years, and occupy several shelves in the National Library. The most comprehensive research-based report done to date, however, the Special House of Commons Senate Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access (1998) report, For the Sake of the Children, more than any previous examination, sought to assess current research and its implications for child custody and access in Canada. This report, unlike others before and since, focused on shared parenting, parent education and mediation, and defining children’s needs and paternal responsibilities in the divorce transition based on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and thus remains a benchmark report in regard to examining the core issues related to child custody and access, going well beyond the cosmetic changes recommended by the other reports. In sum, the Joint Committee found that the current Divorce Act requires revision in a number of key areas.

    A new divorce act, according to the Committee, should assume the existence of two-parenting households and reflect shared responsibility. It should also take into account the importance of grandparents, siblings and other extended family members in children’s lives. Family mediation should exist alongside rather than replace the legal system. Attending at least one confidential mediation session should be mandatory; indeed, the Committee stressed that the law should affirm that mediation and other methods of dispute resolution be the first choice in cases of marital breakdown.

  • 32) The promotion of responsible fathering after separation and divorce is one of the stated aims of the Conservative Party’s policies on child custody and access. The Conservatives’ position during the 2006 federal election was to implement the Special Joint Committee’s recommendation that the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing be shared between the parents, unless demonstrated not to be in the best interests of the child. The terms “custody” and “access” would be removed from the law and replaced with the term “shared parenting.” This option would utilize a “parenting plan” approach to allocate parental responsibilities, and would legislate a shared parenting presumption in disputed cases, unless not in the best interests of the child.

  • 33) As reflected in government reports prepared by legal scholars, the Canadian legal community rarely supports shared parenting.

  • 34) A major problem that exists in the current Family Court System is that “Family Courts” routinely award sole custody on the basis of unproven allegations.

  • 35) There is evidence that in our well-meaning efforts to save children in the immediate post-separation period from anxiety, confusion, and the normative divorce-engendered conflict, we have set the stage in the longer run for the more ominous symptoms of anger, depression, and a deep sense of loss by depriving the child of the opportunity to maintain a full relationship with each parent.

  • 36) The adversarial Canadian Family Justice system polarizes and disconnects the parties in dispute, and the problem of judicial bias in the direction of sole custody or “primary residence” determinations remains unaddressed.

  • 37) It is clear that an alternative approach is needed that goes beyond “cosmetic” family law reforms toward fundamental changes in divorce law, policy and practice. Clear rules and guidelines are needed to limit judicial discretion and to lessen the adversarial climate that exacerbates parental conflict in divorce.

  • 38) It is generally agreed that any reform of child custody law must ensure that children’s basic needs and “best interests” are addressed effectively. This requires an understanding of children’s fundamental needs in the divorce transition, and the development of a corresponding set of parental and societal responsibilities to meet those needs. A new standard of “the best interests of the child” from the perspective of the child is needed, particularly with respect to what children have identified as their core needs; they are most affected by parental divorce and thus the real “experts” on the matter. By their own account, three essential elements stand out for children of divorce: autonomy, to identify their own “best interests” in the divorce transition; being shielded from conflict and violence between their parents; and substantially equal time in their relationships with each of their parents.

  • 39) Listening to the voices of children themselves (as young adults), we now have clear evidence of a perception of divorce fundamentally different from what most policy makers and legislators have assumed. Most children want to be in the shared physical care of their parents after divorce, and research studies support their stated preferences: children in shared parenting arrangements adjust significantly better than those in sole custody arrangements on all general and divorce-specific adjustment measures.

  • 40) Fathers face significant barriers in maintaining their relationships with their children after separation; from their perspective, their children are removed from their care in the absence of any protection concerns, and many face arrest for even trying to see their own children as non-custodial parents. Many have been forcibly removed from their own homes, which are then confiscated and sold. They face a panoply of other expropriations, including their earnings being tied for years to come with child support burdens that reduce some to penury.

  • 41) In debates and discussions about child custody and access, the following points have been largely overlooked in policy discussions:

    A) When divorces occur, a father’s role often becomes extremely marginalized. Because of the bias and prejudices inherent in the sole custody system, resulting in sole maternal custody in the great majority of litigated cases, children’s need for a paternal influence has been overlooked. Fathers are no less “primary” than mothers in their children’s lives, and an access-based “visiting” relationship in no way resembles “parenting,” which requires routine involvement in the daily tasks of care giving.

    B) The sole custody system exacerbates conflict, in which the more aggressive and privileged party in custody litigation holds a distinct advantage. Further, the language used in custody law has created expectations about ownership and rights, and who “wins” and “loses.” Most important, the “winner take all” approach, in heightening conflict between former spouses, sometimes leads to tragic outcomes. It is critical that post-divorce living arrangements reduce conflict between parents, and that support services are available at the time of separation to shield children from any destructive parental conflict.

    C) In cases where there has been a criminal conviction or an investigated finding that a child is in need of protection from a parent (although such cases constitute a minority of child custody disputes), a judge clearly should have the authority to make a child custody determination, including sole custody. High-conflict cases not involving such violence, however, may lead to first-time violence subsequent to a sole custody order. Within the adversarial sole custody system, fully half of severe violence episodes occur after separation. For the majority of “high-conflict” cases, shared parenting is preventive of violence, particularly when ongoing post divorce therapeutic support is available to parents.

    D) It is now increasingly recognized that withholding a fit and loving parent from the life of a child is itself a form of child abuse. Such parental alienation is common in sole custody arrangements, but it is not clear whether shared parenting would reduce such incidents. Therefore it is important that there be some form of enforcement mechanism available to deal with breaches to shared parenting orders, in the absence of established family violence or a finding that a child is in need of protection.

  • 42) An additional key question regarding the present approach to child custody in Canada should be posed in any law reform effort, and that is, “Is the removal of a fit and loving parent from the life of a child, in the absence of an investigated child protection order, a form of systemic abuse, if indeed children need both their mothers and fathers as active parents in their lives following parental separation?”

  • 43) The following “four pillar” framework is offered as a socio-legal policy solution to the problems resulting from adversary-based sole custody determination, father absence in children’s lives, and parental alienation.

    A) HARM REDUCTION: Legal Presumption of Shared Parental Responsibility (Rebuttable Presumption of Joint Physical Custody in Family Law)

    B) TREATMENT: Parenting Plans, Mediation, and Support/Intervention in High Conflict Cases

    C) PREVENTION: Equal Parenting Public Education

    D) ENFORCEMENT: Judicial Determination in Cases of Established Abuse; Enforcement of Shared Parental Responsibility Orders

  • 44) The first pillar establishes a legal expectation that existing parent-child relationships will continue after separation; that is, in the interest of stability in children’s relationships with their parents, the post-divorce parenting arrangements will reflect pre-divorce parenting arrangements in regard to the relative amount of time each parent spends with the children. In cases of dispute, however, shared parenting, defined, as children spending equal time with each of their parents, would be the legal presumption in the absence of established family violence or child abuse. This will provide judges with a clear guideline and will avoid the dilemma of judges adjudicating children’s “best interests” in the absence of expertise in this area.

    This pillar is intended to maximize the involvement of both parents in their children’s lives after separation. Shared parental responsibility results in a more equal division of parenting time and effort, and gives each parent a respite from full-time child rearing, which is particularly important when, as is the case with most Canadian families, both parents work full-time. It is also intended to maximize parental cooperation and reduce conflict and to prevent serious family violence and child abuse after parental separation. Finally, it is intended to reduce child poverty after divorce

    A legal presumption of shared parental responsibility establishes an expectation that the former partners are of equal status before the law in regard to their parental rights and responsibilities, and conveys to children the message that their parents are of equal value as parents. At the same time, in the interests of stability and continuity in children’s relationships with their parents, preexisting parent-child relationships would be expected to continue after separation. Although it is a blunt instrument, and “children spending equal time with each of their parents” may not reflect the existing arrangements in the pre-separation household, a rebuttable joint physical custody presumption would divert parents from a destructive court battle over their children’s care. Shared parental responsibility is also in keeping with current care giving patterns, as the majority of mothers and fathers are now sharing responsibility for child care in two-parent families.

  • 45) The second pillar of our model would set up a legal expectation that parents jointly develop a parenting plan before any court hearing is held on matters related to post separation parenting. The court’s role would then be to ratify the negotiated plan. Through direct negotiation, parent education programs, court-based or independent mediation, or lawyer negotiation, a parenting plan that outlines the parental responsibilities that will meet the needs of their children would be developed before any court hearing is held. This does not require parents to negotiate face to face, but it is aimed at helping them negotiate in the future, as any post-separation living arrangement, whether shared equally or unequally, requires some form of ongoing communication. In the interest of parental autonomy, parents are deemed to have the capacity to resolve their own dispute, rather than surrendering decision-making regarding parenting arrangements to the court system.

    Children’s needs for protection from parental conflict are addressed by this legal expectation, as children’s needs become a means of connecting the parents in a positive direction at a time when conflict has divided them. Parents in conflict would be steered toward an “introduction to mediation” session.

    Mediation, as an alternative method of dispute resolution, has considerable (and as yet largely untapped) potential in establishing shared parenting as the norm, rather than the exception, for divorced families. In the majority of non-violent “high conflict” cases, both parents are capable and loving caregivers and have at least the potential to minimize their conflict and cooperate with respect to their parenting responsibilities within a shared parenting framework.

    With a legal presumption of shared parental responsibility as the cornerstone, mediation could become the instrument whereby parents could be assisted in the development of a child-focused parenting plan. Parents who are oriented to the divorce process and the impact of divorce on family members are better prepared for mediation, and better able to keep the needs of their children at the forefront of their negotiations. Divorce education programs also offer a means to expose divorcing populations to mediation as an alternative mechanism of dispute resolution Further, an educative approach should be an integral part of the mediation process, with a primary focus on children’s needs during and after the divorce process. Family mediators with expertise in the expected effects of divorce on children and parents can be instrumental in helping parents to recognize the potential psychological, social and economic consequences of divorce and, on that foundation, promote parenting plans conducive to children maintaining meaningful, positive post-divorce relationships.

    Parent education regarding children’s needs and interests during and after the divorce transition, followed by a therapeutic approach to divorce mediation, offers a highly effective and efficient means of facilitating the development of cooperative shared parenting plans. Within such an approach, parent education may be used to introduce the option of shared parenting as a viable alternative, and to reduce parents’ anxiety about this new living arrangement. Mediation would then help parents work through the development of the parenting plan, and implementing the plan in as cooperative a manner as possible.

    Of all the strategies that can be used by divorcing parents to reduce the harmful effects of divorce on their children, most important is the development and maintenance of a cooperative co-parenting relationship. Children’s adjustment post-divorce in a long-term shared parenting arrangement is facilitated by a meaningful routine relationship with each parent; an absence of hostile comments about the other parent; consistent, safe, structured, and predictable care giving environments without parenting disruptions; healthy, caring, low-conflict relationships with each parent; and parents’ emotional health and well being. Any model of long-term support for high-conflict divorced families should focus on these factors to produce positive outcomes for children and their parents.

    It is particularly important that hostility between parents be minimized following divorce. Currently, in cases where there is ongoing litigation between parents, children are at greater risk of emotional damage than in less contentious circumstances; in many cases, divorce does not end marital conflict, but exacerbates it.

    It is important that children see the good qualities in both of their parents, and that parent’s work toward the development of positive relationships with each other. An effective support system is instrumental in providing parents with the necessary skills to deal with co-parenting challenges: “the central tenets of this system should be to reduce conflict, assure physical security, provide adequate support services to reduce harm to children and to enable the family to manage its own affairs”. In order for such a system to be successful, allied professionals need to be supportive of a model that helps resolve family disputes and focuses on the welfare of the children.

  • 46) The third pillar of our model would see shared parenting education within the high school system, in marriage preparation courses, and upon divorce is essential to a much-needed program of parent education and support. Public education about various models of shared parenting is especially important, including models for “high-conflict” couples. Such programs are being established, with an emphasis on including fathers who have not traditionally been engaged by parenting support programs and services.

    Shared parenting education should also involve the judiciary, as the effects of changes in family law legislation on the actual practices of judges are uncertain, although there is evidence that the incidence of shared custody increases and sole maternal custody decreases after statutory changes that permit or encourage joint physical custody. Assumptions about shared parenting being unworkable in cases of disputed custody, and sole custody being in children’s best interests in these cases, should be challenged, and stereotypes about disputing parents addressed.

  • 47) The final pillar addresses directly the question of violence and abuse in family relationships, and enables sanctions to be imposed where there is non-compliance or repeated breaches of orders. When it comes to questions of family violence, children’s safety and well-being are of greatest concern. At the same time, it is important that innocence is presumed unless allegations are proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Children’s safety is best assured by addressing family violence as a criminal matter and child abuse as a child protection issue. This is not, however, the general practice of family courts in Canada, which often proceed as if alleged abuse has occurred even when not proved in criminal court, and in the absence of a child protection investigation.

    A rebuttable presumption of shared parental responsibility means that proven cases of family violence would be exempt, and those cases involving either a criminal conviction, such as assault, in a matter directly related to the parenting of the children, or a finding that a child is in need of protection from a parent by a statutory child welfare authority, would be followed by judicial determination of child custody. It may be appropriate in such cases, for one or both parents to have limited or no contact with the children because of potential harm.

    In child custody situations in which assault is alleged, a thorough, informed and expeditious comprehensive child welfare assessment is required. The criminal prosecution of family members alleged to have been violent toward any other member of the family would hold accountable all perpetrators of violence, as well as those who are found to allege abuse falsely. The family court would then retain its traditional role in the determination of custody.

  • 48) To the degree that the adversarial sole custody system disregards children’s need for both parents in their lives, it exacerbates the negative consequences of divorce for children not exposed to family violence or abuse. Children value their connection with their parents, and if one biological parent is denigrated, so is the child. The loss of a loving parent through divorce has devastating consequences for children’s self-concept. Children, who are the innocent victims of the “custody wars” between parents, and of the social institutions and policies that exacerbate the conflict, are a highly vulnerable and overlooked population. In the words of writer Jonathan Kozol (1995), “there is nothing predatory in these children; they know that the world does not much like them and they try hard to be good . . .”

  • 49) Post Traumatic Stress: Children and parents who have undergone abuse, including forced separation from each other in the absence of abuse, are subject to post-traumatic stress, and reunification efforts should be undertaken. Any reunification program subsequent to prolonged absence should be undertaken only with great sensitivity, especially when parental alienation is a factor. The importance of regarding both parents as equally valued in the child’s eyes is of utmost importance.

  • 50) Child Support: Although the economic consequences of divorce for all family members are devastating, the recent finding that the standard of living of non-custodial fathers falls below that of custodial mothers is largely unrecognized, and this is a cause for concern, as child support guidelines are based not only on a sole custody framework but also on the feminization of poverty thesis. New child support guidelines within a shared parenting approach should aim toward equalizing the standard of living of both households. In addition, greater attention should be drawn to the general lack of government financial support for parenting itself, and the problem of wage differentials between the genders.

  • 51) False Claims: It is not uncommon for spouses in high-conflict separations to make false or exaggerated allegations of abuse, and false denials are equally a problem. Allegations of parental abuse or neglect of children should be investigated in a timely manner, and allegations of family violence dealt with as a criminal matter in criminal court. When an allegation of abuse is made and an acquittal results in criminal court, this should be binding on a judge in any subsequent family law proceeding. If an accused is convicted in a criminal trial, however, the judge in a family law trial must take the criminal conviction as conclusive evidence that the abuse in question occurred, and act accordingly. The outright suspension of parental involvement in a child’s life must only be done in the case of established child abuse and, even then, reestablishment of a positive parent-child relationship must remain a goal.

  • 52) Civil Restraining Orders and Access Supervision: Civil restraining orders to prohibit parents from contacting a spouse should not be used to prevent parental contact with a child in the absence of a criminal conviction or a finding that a child is in need of protection. Such orders made in the absence of established family violence or child abuse are likely to have serious effects on children’s well-being. Access supervision, in the absence of established abuse, is equally problematic.

  • 53) Abduction and Parental Alienation: The abduction of a child from a parent’s life is a particularly egregious form of abuse. Responsible parenting involves respecting the other parent’s role in the child’s life, and any form of denigration of a former partner and co-parent, the most extreme of which is abduction, is harmful to children, whose connection to each parent must be respected. However, the position that, if there is a reasonable possibility of abduction, this may be grounds for supervising or denying access is contrary to the presumption of innocence, and undermines co-parenting, and is therefore unsupportable.

    Parental alienation, which is more common than is often assumed, is the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other parent. It is a sign of an inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Alienating parents are themselves emotionally fragile, often enmeshed with the child, with a sense of entitlement, needing control, knowing only how to take. Similar sanctions to those in family violence cases should apply in these instances, as poisoned minds and instilled hatred toward a parent is a form of abuse of children.

    When children grow up in an atmosphere of parental alienation, their primary role model is a maladaptive, dysfunctional parent. Shared parenting is clearly preferable to sole custody in these cases, as children have equal exposure to a healthier parental influence in their lives.

Do courts prefer mothers over fathers?

presumed equal parenting
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it's not a justice system it's a legal it's not a justice system it's a legal it's not a justice system it's a legal system there's not much justice in it system there's not much justice in it system there's not much justice in it this family court you don't though this family court you don't though this family court you don't though she'll proof for anything you got a she'll proof for anything you got a she'll proof for anything you got a system that says you know what if you system that says you know what if you system that says you know what if you want to destroy the person that you now want to destroy the person that you now want to destroy the person that you now hate hey come on we'll help you out the hate hey come on we'll help you out the hate hey come on we'll help you out the problems are so expansive that when you problems are so expansive that when you problems are so expansive that when you put them off together the results are put them off together the results are put them off together the results are catastrophic Bobby's are expected to catastrophic Bobby's are expected to catastrophic Bobby's are expected to show their their family responsibilities show their their family responsibilities show their their family responsibilities not by looking after their children but not by looking after their children but not by looking after their children but by not looking after their children and by not looking after their children and by not looking after their children and paying somebody else to do so basically paying somebody else to do so basically paying somebody else to do so basically you're saying our fathers are not you're saying our fathers are not you're saying our fathers are not necessary to children this is a tragedy necessary to children this is a tragedy necessary to children this is a tragedy it's a national tragedy I'm going to be it's a national tragedy I'm going to be it's a national tragedy I'm going to be attempting to break the Guinness world attempting to break the Guinness world attempting to break the Guinness world record for the fastest crossing of record for the fastest crossing of record for the fastest crossing of Canada on selecting the Canadian family Canada on selecting the Canadian family Canada on selecting the Canadian family justice system is a societal cancer you justice system is a societal cancer you justice system is a societal cancer you don't get to reward it by solving don't get to reward it by solving don't get to reward it by solving problems or putting the family back problems or putting the family back problems or putting the family back together they get rewarded by the amount together they get rewarded by the amount together they get rewarded by the amount of effort and time they spent the of effort and time they spent the of effort and time they spent the product is as the people they need to product is as the people they need to product is as the people they need to solicit divorces if you will to create solicit divorces if you will to create solicit divorces if you will to create the financial churn

vote there man

sad that is not noticed it's sad that sad that is not noticed it's sad that sad that is not noticed it's sad that men's pain is not noticed not only is men's pain is not noticed not only is men's pain is not noticed not only is there a gender bias in the courts that's there a gender bias in the courts that's there a gender bias in the courts that's hurting children there's a gender bias hurting children there's a gender bias hurting children there's a gender bias with our government

National Post columnist Barbara Kay has shown time and again, right here in Canada, men fighting custody battles are outgunned from the start

Why shared custody is the best arrangement?

What is a Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting?

Every Civil or Criminal Law is supposed to have a default position or a presumption. A legal presumption is a rule of procedure for judges to follow. All it means is that if neither side to a dispute produces evidence against the presumption, the judge is obligated to follow the presumption. The most commonly recognized legal presumption is surely the presumption of innocence in criminal cases. When a person is accused of criminal activity, he/she is protected by the presumption of innocence. Therefore, the prosecution is required to produce evidence to overcome the presumption, i.e. evidence of guilt. If the prosecution comes into court with no evidence, or insufficient evidence, of guilt, the judge is required by law to enter a judgment of not guilty and let the accused go free. That’s how a presumption works. It effectively places the burden of proof on the side that opposes the presumption.

Equal Equal Parenting - CanadaUnfortunately in Canada, The Divorce Act does not provide a default position or presumption to the Courts. If a presumption of shared parenting existed, it would place the burden of proof on whatever party to the custody proceeding opposed equal shared parenting. Certain things would be slam-dunk winners such as actual proof of violence, abuse or neglect. Other than actual proven safety concerns, there wouldn’t be any real reason for a Judge not to order Equal Equal Parenting.

Currently, however, due to the intrinsic flaws of the Divorce Act, the Family Courts in Canada have implemented their own default position. One that unequivocally, IS NOT in “the best interests of the children.” That position is one that is a cruel form of Child Abuse, and that is the forceful removal of one of the Child’s Parents from the Child’s life. As Professor Edward Kruk, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, and Canada’s foremost expert on Child Custody has stated, “it is a form of child abuse to have a fit and loving parent forcefully removed by a court in the absence of any child protection concerns or issues.”

More often than not it is the Child’s Father who is removed from an active parenting role. In Canada, Mothers get custody in 86% cases, and more than 40% of children in Canada’s divorced families see their fathers only once a month. For the sake of the Children, this needs to be stopped!!!

“There can be no equality or opportunity if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control, or singly cope with.” – Thomas Woodrow Wilson

For the sake of the Children, Family Law in Canada needs to be reformed!!!

For the sake of the Children, the Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting needs to be the default position in Canadian Family Law!!!

Equal Equal Parenting

Equal Equal Parenting, which has also been referred to as “collaborative parenting,” or “balanced parenting,” is a presumption and standard that, for the sake of the children, needs to be applied to the Canadian Family Justice System, that would see both Parents, Mom and Dad, sharing equal parenting time and equal parenting responsibility in the decision making of their child or children, upon separation or divorce.

Of course, the presumption must be rebuttable. If either parent is unable, or unwilling to take responsibility for child rearing, or such an arrangement is clearly demonstrated to be contrary to the needs or safety of the specific child, then Equal Equal Parenting should not be ordered. However, only real and proven reasons should change the presumption of Equal Equal Parenting. Speculation and False Allegations should not!

False Allegations in The Canadian Family Justice System:

Currently, in the Canadian Family Justice System, False Allegations of physical or sexual abuse, as well as allegations of neglect, are the “weapon of choice,” by lawyers, and parents, who want to “win” at any cost. Such False Allegations are running rampant in our Courts, and even when proven False, there is no liability or repercussion to the Parent who made such a damaging allegation.

Equal Equal Parenting - CanadaMake no mistake about it, False Allegations, especially when submitted by a Lawyer through sworn written or oral testimony, in the form of an affidavit, is Perjury. Perjury is supposed to be against the law, and should be punished as a crime. However, our Family Courts allow such detrimental lies to be told all of the time, more often than not by the Mother, without any repercussions or criminal charges being laid.

9In the 1998 report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, an entire section was dedicated on the issue of False Allegations of Abuse or Neglect. In Chapter 5, section F, of the For The Sake Of The Children Report, it states, “Witnesses, including individuals, lawyers and other professionals, identified several ways that false allegations can be introduced into the legal system when parents are in conflict over their children. Allegations of abuse or neglect are often made to a child protection agency, or they are introduced through affidavits and pleadings submitted by the lawyer of the parent making the allegation. False allegations can also take the form of perjury in sworn written and oral testimony.”

The For The Sake Of The Children Report states clearly that at many of the Committee’s meetings, “Individual fathers relating their personal experiences and men’s groups from across Canada testified that a tactic used by some parents and their lawyers, in an effort to deny parenting time to the non-residential parent (usually the father), is false allegations of physical or sexual abuse or neglect. These witnesses testified that this is a major problem that not only leads to denial of parenting time but also contributes to estrangement and alienation between fathers and their children. In some cases this estrangement becomes permanent. Estrangement may be avoided by maintaining contact between parent and child through supervised parenting.”

One Father, a Mr. Kim Cummins, (Meeting #20, Calgary) stated, “At the last appeal, the judge apologized to me, saying `This poor father. What have we done to him?’ What did they do? What did this justice system do to me? I haven’t seen my children for now going on nine years… these false allegations do a lot of things to you. The hurt’s there. It’s like someone ripping your heart out. It will never go away, as some people have told you. You can make as many recommendations as you want, but the scars are here. They’re with me until the day I die. My kids? I have to ask friends what they look like.”

Does this sound like Justice to you???

Why is the Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting Important?

The Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting is important because it protects Children, by providing Children with what should be every child’s basic rights, and those rights are:

1)   The Right of the Child to know and be cared for by both of his or her parents (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7);

2)   The Right of the Child to preserve his or her family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 8);

3)   The Right of the Child not to be separated from his or her parents against their will (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 9);

4)   The Right of the Child to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 9);

5)   The Right of the Child, who is capable of forming his or her own views, to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12);

6)   The Right of the Child to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12);

7)   The Right of the Child not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her family or home (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 16);

8)   The Right of the Child to be raised by both parents, who both have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 18);

9)   The Right of the Child to have the Government abolish the traditional practice of the “Tender Years” doctrine, as well as the traditional practice of awarding Sole Custody to one parent, which has been shown to be prejudicial to the best interests of children (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 24);

10)   The Right of the Child to have the government assist the child’s parents in providing the child with a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 27);

11)   The right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 32);

12)   The Right of the Child not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37);

Equal Equal Parenting Protects Children From the Gender Bias in Family Law

In Canada, women file 80% of divorces involving child custody orders. The greatest single factor that encourages women to do so is the Gender Bias in our Family Court System. Women know with a virtual certainty that they’ll get the children in a divorce; along with the home, child support and maybe even spousal support. Lawyers know this, so instead of encouraging women to mediate and work out a Equal Parenting Arrangement in the best interests of the children, they will encourage their client to go to Court and fight for everything. And why not, by doing so, the Lawyer makes big money, and the wife gets to be vindictive and possibly destroy her ex-husband. The presumption of Equal Equal Parenting protects children from the gender bias of this abusive system and protects them from the wrath of one parent.

Do Children Of Divorce Have Any Rights In Canada?

Frank Simons, Canadian Author of Courts From Hell; Family Injustice In Canada, is quoted as saying, “If Rosa Parks was a divorced Father in Canada, she’d still be riding at the back of the bus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks )

I agree completely with Mr. Simon’s statement, however, I would like to go even further and state that, “If Rosa Parks was a Child of Divorce in Canada, she’d still be in slavery, nothing more than a piece of property to a Slave Master.”

Make no mistake about it; this issue is a Human Rights Issue. There is only one group of individuals in Canada that is specifically targeted by special laws in which they can be legally abducted and ripped away from loving parents and Family members, who are then commanded to pay ransom (child support). That group is the Children of Divorce.

Furthermore, there is only one group in Canada that is specifically targeted by special laws that make it legal to seize their assets, freeze their bank accounts, and place them in jail without them having ever committed a crime. That group is the non-custodial parent, who more often than not is the Father of the abducted child. This group has no rights in Canada either.

Inherently, in the current Canadian Family Justice System, Children have no real rights whatsoever, because they undoubtedly have no power at all to enforce any “rights” on their own. A child requires a champion to work the system. That Champion is the Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting.

Relationship breakdowns, separations and divorces, are acrimonious affairs. But far more acrimonious are relationships that are forcibly broken down by someone outside of the relationship.

When a separation or divorce enters the Courtroom, which is as simple as one parent applying to the Courts for Full Custody of the Child (the Applicant); regardless of whether the other parent wants to work out an Equal Equal Parenting plan for the best interests of their child (The Respondent); all concern about a child’s best interests, or a Child’s rights, gets thrown out, as the Child’s rights and best interests clashes with the Applicant Parents’ larger agenda and, too often, the powerless children suffer the consequences.

Equal Equal Parenting Defuses The Adversarial Nature of the Courts:

The Canadian Family Justice System has a way of turning loving, caring, compassionate parents into hard-nosed, bitter, stick-it-to-the SOB crusaders, who lose track of how their attitudes and decisions are affecting their innocent children.

As Canadian Family Court Judge, Justice Brownstone stated in a video interview with CBC’s Susan Ormiston, “My position is that the Family Court is the last place that parents in conflict should be going to, to convert themselves from ex-partners, to co-parents. That is what they need to do, and it doesn’t happen in a courtroom, because a courtroom sets parents up to wage war…, not peace…, and for the sake of their children, their children need their parents to be at peace.”

In speaking about how adversarial the Canadian Family Justice System is, Justice Brownstone stated, “Everyday in Court Rooms, throughout the world I suppose, parents who are in conflict with each other over their children are waging the battle of their lives… and the sad part about it is that, from where I sit, very, very little of the battle has anything to do with the children. These are struggles for power and control, they often do not focus on the children at all.”

To watch Justice Brownstone’s video interview with CBC’s Susan Ormiston, please click on the following title: Susan Ormiston talks with Family Court Judge Harvey Brownstone

Justice Brownstone has spent 14 years refereeing ugly custody disputes in Canadian Family Court , and has written a book entitled, Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court.

Finally, a Judge who tells most of the story. He states correctly that the Family Justice System is extremely adversarial in nature, which is contrary to children’s needs, as it sets parents up to go to war with one another. What he fails to mention is the exorbitant cost, or how the system feeds on itself.

Justice Brownstone fails to mention how lawyers and Judges unethically escalate the conflict. He fails to be honest about the gender bias in the Canadian Family Justice System. He also fails to be honest about the fact that despite the conflict, a Judge could still act in a child’s best interests, and order an equal shared parenting arrangement, in which the parents would be Court Ordered to communicate with one another by means of a mediator, or parenting co-ordinator.

The Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting would help protect Children from the adversarial nature of the Courts, by directing Family Court Judges, like Justice Brownstone himself, to start acting in the best interests of the child by ordering an Equal Equal Parenting Arrangement. By doing so, the system would now work to help reduce the conflict, tension and stress, rather than inflaming the conflict and tension, which, in reality, is what the current “winner take all” system does.

When a child’s relationship with one of their parents is permanently severed, with neither the child nor the affected parent desiring it, the Canadian Family Justice System sets the Family up for failure. Such inappropriate Court actions only increase the animosity between divorcing couples, and place the child in an unfortunate situation in which they are caught in the middle of the conflict.

The child him/herself becomes the battleground. Each parent begrudges the child’s relationship to the other. Even though a parent may hold their tongue, the attitude still exudes for the child to see. The child lives with their distain. The child is caught between a rock and a hard place. To survive they learn to mask their feelings. To avoid the disapproval of their parents they align with each parent through negative comments about the other. So when with Mom, the child tells bad stories about Dad to gain their mother’s approval and minimize tensions with her. Then, when they are with Dad, the child tells bad stories about Mom to gain Dad’s approval and minimize tensions with him. Sadly though, this strategy only feeds the conflict between the parents as they feel more justified in their position with the new ammunition delivered by the child. Thus the parental conflict escalates and the child is subject to greater hostility.

Equal Equal Parenting Helps To Reduce Conflict

For the Sake of the Children, the Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting would help reduce the conflict, as it levels the playing field between both parents, and ensures that neither parent needs to feel threatened about losing their relationship with their child. Equal Equal Parenting provides both parents, and the child, with the security of a continuing relationship with one another.

Research is abundantly clear that the level and intensity of Parental Conflict is the most influential factor in a Child’s post divorce adjustment. High conflict between parents is the single best predictor of a poor outcome for the child.

Common sense tells you that parental conflict deeply affects children, but it is even worse when the parents feel hatred towards one another. The adversarial nature of the Canadian Family Justice System is a perfect vehicle for generating outright hate amongst a divorcing couple. It does so by increasing the conflict and tension with an atmosphere built around fear of loss instead of hope and promise.

When parents sense that they may lose their child forever, because the child, being so young, will not have the capability of recovering the relationship on his or her own, they react to this threat with anger, hostility, and sometimes an irrational sense of impending doom.

Sometimes they flip out and do outrageous, and illegal things … like the mother in Barrie who was embroiled in a bitter custody battle, who drowned her 2 children, Serena and Sophia (age 1 and 3), in 2006.

Frances Elaine Campione, who selfishly wanted to win sole custody of the children, so that she could return to her native New Brunswick and start a new life, murdered both children, because her ex-husband, Leonardo Campione, appeared to have been on the verge of more regular visits with his children, after more than a year of barely seeing his two daughters.

The Campione Family Tradgedy should haunt every politician, judicial officer, Family and Children Services worker, counsellor and family involved in a separation. The murders of these 2 precious little angels should make our Members of Parliament hang their heads in shame.

  • If our Government would have done the right thing back in 1991, and implemented the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into our National Law, including our Family Law, the Campione Children might still be alive today.
  • If our Government would have done the right thing back in 1998, and amended the Divorce Act to put into practice the recommendations of the For The Sake Of The Children report, little Serena and Sophia might still be alive today.
  • If our Government would have done the right thing back in 2002, and passed the Honourable Jay Hill’s, Equal Equal Parenting Private Members Bill, Bill C-245, two beautiful little angels might still be alive today.

If our Government refuses once again to reform the Family Justice System in Canada, and put into practice the Rebuttable Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting, it is just a matter of time before a similar tragedy occurs.

To read an article from Canada.com on The Campione Family Tragedy , please click on the title.

Equal Equal Parenting Protects Children’s Relationships With Both Parents:

Gandhi once wrote, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” Those words apply more than ever to the current Canadian Family Justice System.

Equal Equal Parenting helps to resolve Parental Conflict as it provides something that the current adversarial Family Justice System fails to do, and that is personal security in parent child relationships, and sets the system up to provide a favourable outcome for the child by creating a system that works with both parents, and implements an approach centered around mediation, education and counselling.

An Equal Equal Parenting approach within the Family Justice System would help educate parents to understand that an antagonistic tug of war approach is a toxic approach that only hurts their child. It would create an atmosphere in which the approach is to achieve a plan for both parents that encourages a relaxation of the animosity by encouraging a new collaborative approach in which the child’s best interests are being put forth.

Equal Equal Parenting Protects Parents Rights, Responsibilities and Wealth:

Every year in Canada tens of thousands of Parents and Family Members lose their children, their homes, their life savings, their jobs, their future income, and their dignity fighting to win control of the children in court. The assets that a family has worked hard to save prior to divorce end up being spent on mediators, assessors, social workers, real estate agents and the lawyers. In the end, the children end up with little, if any of the family assets, nor do many children end up having any money put away for their future education.

Some families, who lose everything, find themselves living on welfare and end up becoming a burden to society. Working taxpayers wind up paying for the additional costs created by the adversarial Canadian Family Justice System.

In many cases in our Canadian Family Courts, the strategy deployed by one parent is to deliberately prevent the children from seeing the other parent, and to force the other parent into financial hardship by using different court tactics to stall and delay. The more times that they have to go to Court, the more money they have to spend. Most times, the parent that can’t afford to keep going back to Court ends up giving up.

Often, a primary-care parent will use their advantage as the primary parent to alienate the children from the other parent, in an effort to destroy the relationship between the children and the other parent. The loving relationship that a child once had with two parents is destroyed by one parent seeking revenge on the other parent without any thought of what is in the best interests of the child. Damaging as well is that often the custodial parent does not even allow the children to see the grandparents of the non-custodial parent for no other reason except that they are relatives of the spouse they dislike. This is called Parental Alienation Syndrome, and it is an immense problem in CanadaIt is a cruel form of Child Abuse and the Canadian Family Justice System is encouraging it.

The Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting helps protect BOTH parents’ relationships with their children, as it promotes true gender equality between sexes in the parenting of their children, and recognizes BOTH parents as significant contributors to a child’s development.

Equal Equal Parenting also protects BOTH parents’ wealth, as it significantly reduces conflicts in court, as one parent does not feel like they are being treated as a visitor with their own children, or a wallet to their former partner. Fights to get control over the children in order to get support payments are one of the largest single factors in court custody battles today.

The incentive to litigate is also greatly reduced, as both parents know that the courts will award equal parenting. Similar to no fault insurance, the outcome is predictable. As a result, families will suffer less financial hardship, and money can then be placed into Registered Education Savings Plans so that the Children’s future education can be secured. When both parents know that they have a reasonable share in the life of their children, there is little motivation to fight. The best way to make peace is to have a fair agreement.

Equal Equal Parenting will also greatly reduce the problem of Parental Alienation and child access problems. Furthermore, Equal Equal Parenting will significantly reduce the abuse of the legal system through the use of false allegations against the other party.

Equal Equal Parenting Protects You The Canadian Tax Payer:

Since the introduction of the so-called “No Fault Divorce,” the divorce industrial complex has evidenced unprecedented growth, and has become a multi-billion dollar business in Canada. After it’s introduction the divorce rate has steadily climbed from 8% to being among the world’s highest at about 50% of marriages. Each year there are approximately 75,000 divorces and 50,000 child custody orders. Of these approximately 90% of the time custody is awarded to mothers. There are approximately 2 million children in Canada who are now living life without their Father due to the adversarial Family Court System.

So, what is the financial cost of the adversarial Family Justice System to Canadian Taxpayers and Families? Here is a breakdown of the annual costs just for the operations of the Family Justice System only. You the Canadian Taxpayers are paying for this:

  • Cost of Judges Salary – $300,000,000 (Three Hundred Million)
  • Cost of Administration, Operations, $400,000,000 (Four Hundred Million)

  • Cost of Court Security – $100,000,000 (One Hundred Million)

  • Cost of Legal Aid – $200,000,000 (Two Hundred Million)

  • Cost of Enforcement – $120,000,000 (1 Hundred and Twenty Million)

  • Cost of Lawyers – $4,600,000,000 (4 Billion, Six Hundred Million)

These numbers are estimated, based on the Ontario numbers provided by the Ontario Provincial Auditor, as details for all of Canada were not available. With one third of the total population of Canada residing in Ontario, the totals for Canada were prorated accordingly. In those cases where input numbers included Civil and Criminal justice, the proportion to Family Justice was approximated. These costs do not include the many other associated costs such as mediators, social workers, police, children’s aid societies, etc. They are just the costs related to the Family Court portion.

References: Attorney General, Ontario Court Services Annual Report 2005, Ontario Provincial Auditor – Annual Report 2003, Federal Funding of Provincial Child Support enforcement, Department of Justice – Report on Plans and Priorities 2004-2005, Canadian Judicial Council, Profile of legal aid services in family law maters in Canada, CanLaw.

The Total Yearly Cost to Canadian Taxpayers and Families in Crises is approximately $6 Billion per year. Remember though, that is only the administrational costs.

For this huge expenditure, there is absolutely no value or benefit to our Canadian families, or Canadian Society as a whole. In fact, our Family Justice System only brings about harm and damage to our Families, and our Society. The only people benefiting from the court created family conflict are the Judges (Former Lawyers) and Family Law Lawyers, as well as the Assessors, who charge up to twenty thousand dollars to do an assessment.

What is the financial cost of the adversarial Family Justice System to Canadian society as a whole? When you add up the costs incurred by society for items such as; courts; legal subsidization; additional costs to healthcare; additional costs to education systems and other social institutions; the increase in crime, including juvenile delinquency; policing; welfare costs for those single parent families that fall into poverty; E.I.; support and enforcement agencies such as FRO; the impact on workplace productivity and placement, as well as loss of productivity on the part of affected adults; personal bankruptcies; crime; and the future costs related to be responsible for such a situation; the costs to Canadian society and Canadian Taxpayers is astronomical. Some estimates have been given as high as 10 to 12 Billion Dollars annually.

Although buried in our social fabric, these are real costs that impact the country’s bottom line, and from a global business perspective, they impact our competitiveness. For our society as a whole, the dissolution of marriage is a costly proposition.

  1. Couldn’t this money be put to better use?
  2. Can you imagine the benefit to society as a whole if these funds were used for healing families, or for dealing with poverty?
  3. Couldn’t this money be used to speed up the wait times in our National Health Care system?
  4. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on Education programs?

France has free University for its Citizens, to the extent that there is no tuition charged by public universities. Students are only responsible for their own housing, food and other expenses. Couldn’t the billions being wasted on our failing Family Justice System be used to put a similar Public University Program into service here in Canada? Wouldn’t such a Public Service be more beneficial to Canadian society???

Shouldn’t the Billions wasted be redirected for programs to:

  • Help families on the edge recover.
  • Equitably address all issues of domestic violence regardless of gender.

  • Support families to help them survive divorce and help enable “New Beginnings”.

  • Focus efforts on legitimate cases of need and enforcement only where there is a dereliction of responsibilities.

  • Initiate programs to help eliminate the poverty caused by the impacts of divorce.

As we, the Canadian Taxpayers support divorce, as well as the added cost to society of single parent homes, shouldn’t we be the most powerful lobbying group the Government should pay attention to? Unfortunately for the Children of Divorce, the Canadian Bar Association is the most powerful lobbyist group in Canada when it comes to the Family Justice System, and they don’t want things to change at all.

Who Does Equal Equal Parenting Hurt?

Why does the Canadian Government regard negotiation as the best means to resolve government conflict, police standoffs, land claims, union and management disputes, etc, etc, yet appears to view the adversarial, courtroom approach as the best way to deal with family disputes? Why??? Because it is big business, that’s why.

Make no mistake about it; The Canadian Bar Association is one of the most powerful lobbyist groups in Canada, and they like the Family Justice System exactly the way it is, because the primary losers in the change from the adversarial system, to a system based on equality, are the lawyers and judges themselves.

Divorce represents a limitless capacity to the legal profession to generate income, and they don’t want to lose it. You would think that the Canadian Family Court System’s sole purpose would be to focus on the needs and best interest of the family, but in reality, it encourages conflict with the sole purpose of generating profits for it’s own best interests. The Canadian Family Justice System is an extremely self-serving industry.

The groups that will most adversely be affected by Equal Equal Parenting are lawyers, judges, assessors, and other elements of the legal system. To read what Lawyers are saying about the Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting, please click on the February 03, 2006 article from The Lawyers Weekly, by Cristin Schmitz.

You will see that they don’t want things to change, but when you look at their arguments as to why they don’t want things to change, you will see the transparency in their statements. For a lawyer like Toronto family law practitioner Carole Curtis to say, “The current situation of custody and access, although not perfect, is working,” shows just how out of touch Lawyers are with the failings of the system. Mrs. Curtis goes on to say, “I would rather have no change, than a move towards shared parenting or joint custody or parenting plans, or whatever other euphemism somebody wants to use, because the current situation, for the majority of separated families, reflects the arrangements that existed before separation, and the arrangements still are that the mother is usually the primary caregiver and often that translates into sole custody, and that the father is an access parent paying support.” Is Mrs. Curtis really that clueless? Does Mrs. Curtis really believe that we, the Canadian Public are that clueless?

The majority of Canadian Families today, and for the longest time now, see both parents working outside of the home and both parents sharing child-rearing duties inside of the home. Socio-economic conditions in Canada and North America have contributed to the need of dual incomes for families. Truthfully, most Canadian Families could not survive today if there was only one income in the home.

The Ontario Women’s Directorate, a social program that provides a vehicle for government action on issues of concern to women, states on their website under the heading “Economic Independence”“The increased participation of women in the paid workforce has been one of the most significant social trends in Canada in the past 25 years. In 2004: 58% of all women aged 15 and over were part of the paid work force, up from 42% in 1976.” So, if in 1976, over 30 years ago 42% of all women in Canada, aged 15 and over were part of the paid work force, and today, 58% of women in Canada are part of the paid work force, are we really expected to believe that mothers today, in 2009, are stay at home Moms in charge of all of the care giving for the children, as well as the cooking and the cleaning?

The Ontario Women’s Directorate also states that economically, “the number of two parent families below the poverty line would increase to an estimated 78% if they were to become single income families.” Socially, it was the norm in the past, for women to stay at home having a more expressive role in the family; taking care of the children and providing emotional support for the family, but it is no longer like that. We are living in the year 2009. We are no longer living in the 50’s and 60’s. Yet, the Lawyers making big bucks off of the Canadian Family Justice System would expect you to believe that we are.

People, especially Family Law Lawyers, who oppose the Presumption of Equal Equal Parenting need to fill us in on why it is okay, given all we know about the value of Fathers to children, to separate the two. We know from mountains of social science accumulated by a vast array of researchers in countless different ways, in many different cultures, that children with actively involved Fathers do better than those without. We know that children, mothers, fathers and society greatly benefit from father involvement with children. They must provide us with well-documented research and statistics on why the current system is working, to show us why it should not be changed. They must provide us with well-documented research and statistics on how the current system is benefiting our children, our families, and our Canadian society.

As all of the research points to the contrary, the Lawyers feeding off of the Adversarial Canadian Family Justice System, cannot provide us with an intelligent well-documented argument. Instead, they can only make unintelligent and self-serving statements such as the one made by past chairperson of the Canadian Bar Association’s national family law section, Judith Huddart, of Toronto’s Dranoff & Huddart. Mrs Huddart has unintelligently stated, “I don’t think we are in favour of the shared parenting presumption scenario. It has a lot more to do with power struggles between parents. What we want is parents to find a way to communicate positively about their children.” Mrs. Huddart’s statement makes no sense whatsoever. It is a transparent statement that is only meant to serve Lawyers Best Interests.

It is almost as if Lawyers don’t even see Children any more. All they see is dollar signs with pigtails and baseball caps. Haven’t they made enough money off of our Children’s pain?

Make no mistake about it, Equal Equal Parenting Only Hurts The Lawyers.


A Lawyer Speaks The Truth About The Canadian Family Justice System

I leave you with a straightforward and truthful article written by an honest Lawyer named Michael Cochrane, entitled The Flaw In Family Law, that was published on May 4, 2009, in The Mark: News and Perspectives Daily.

Michael Cochrane is a Partner at the Toronto Law Firm Ricketts, Harris LLP. Mr. Cochrane has been practicing law in Ontario for over 30 years in both the public and private sector. His practice has an emphasis on civil litigation, family law, estates and public policy law. He was the host of BNN’s “Strictly Legal” for three successful seasons and has appeared as a legal expert on numerous television and radio programmes including: the CBC’s “Counterspin,” “As it Happens,” TVO and Canada AM.

He is the author of a number of books on legal issues, including the best selling Surviving Your Divorce: A Guide to Canadian Family Law (4th Edition) and Strictly Legal: Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Canadian Law. He was the Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Civil Litigation (published by Carswell) from 2001-2004. He is also the Legal Expert for Zoomer Magazine.

In addition to being trained in negotiation and advanced negotiation, Harvard Law School, he was a Fellow at the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C. He has lectured at a variety of law schools in Canada, including the University of Ottawa, Osgoode Hall (York University) and Ryerson University.

Michael Cochrane
May 4, 2009
The Mark: News and Perspectives Daily

The Flaw In Family Law

You would be hard-pressed to find a knowledgeable Canadian who could defend our current family law system against reasonable standards. Is it efficient? Cost-effective? Good for families? Good for men? Women? Children? The answer is no on every score. Day in and day out, our justice system drains the spirit, energy, and life savings out of tens of thousands of Canadians who are going through separation and divorce. Factor in the millions of dollars transferred from Canadians’ savings to lawyers’ accounts and the cost to taxpayers of the entire industry surrounding divorce in Canada – Legal Aid, police, judges, court staff, disrupted schools, doctors, and social workers – and we have nothing short of a billion-dollar drag on the Canadian economy. If the system is indefensible, which it is, can we just start over again? Or should we let millions of Canadians continue to suffer through the nation’s divorce grinder?

We need a wholesale reform of family dispute resolution, and we can start by taking it out of the courts altogether. No one can recall or really cares how we began to think that family relationships could be untangled in the same way as car accidents, commercial disputes, and negligence claims. Some families need financial planning advice at the time of separation more than they need an opinion from the Supreme Court of Canada. Some need direct and immediate access to police because there are safety concerns, others advice on getting one of the spouses retrained and back into the workforce as quickly as possible. And almost all families need some form of counseling to help them transition from one dysfunctional household to two healthy, functioning homes. Our current court system handles these sensitive needs with the blunt instrument of adversarial court orders. We need, instead, the equivalent of a labour relations tribunal – a Family Relations Tribunal, if you will, where resources are devoted to the multi-disciplinary needs of families.

I would rather see separating couples approach a tribunal asking for help in exiting their relationship peacefully, in a way that ensures the family’s resources are shared fairly. That same tribunal should help the family divide responsibility for the children, financially and otherwise, in a way that reflects part of the reality of that family’s pre-separation existence. It is a painful mystery to think how some mothers and fathers are forced to transition from seeing their children every single day to seeing them every second weekend for a few hours. How can we expect families and children to thrive after separation if they move into an artificial parenting universe totally unlike that to which they were accustomed?

Boy In CourtIt is difficult to keep the focus on the children involved in these kinds of disputes. We have a justice system (and, dare I say, a political system) that is focused very much on the rights of mothers, the rights of fathers, the rights of men, the rights of women, and the rights of grandparents. There has been very, very little emphasis on the rights and needs of children. Mothers and fathers exhaust their emotions and resources paying lawyers (if they can afford one) to fight over custody and access, but the children emerging from these high-conflict divorces will exhaust taxpayers’ resources when they end up with eating and mood disorders, depressed, drugged, smoking, drinking, taking up time in our classrooms, sitting in doctors’ and social workers’ offices and Children’s Aid Societies, and – as is the case for many children of divorce – moving into our young offenders’ justice system. Parents fight over their children because our family law system facilitates that fight. We need to stop letting that happen.

Let’s tear down Canada’s family law system and start over. Disagree? Debate me – anywhere, anytime. The current system must go.

– Michael Cochrane

I’d love to see Carole Curtis and Judith Huddart intelligently debate Michael Cochrane.


A Final Statement from the “Parliament of Canada’s” own report “For the Sake of the Children.” (1998)

“The prevention of divorce and the resolution of family disputes before divorce should be high on the agenda. The societal ill caused by divorce of which child poverty is a priority, requires radical change in both priority and method in which the government dictates the approach to divorce”

  • Parental alienation
  • False domestic violence allegations and lack of requirement of proof in court
  • Women as the majority initiators of divorce and why this is important to examine
  • Lack of proof required for police to take action against fathers
  • Unfair tax treatment after divorce that favour the custodial parent
  • Issues surrounding the unfair Federal Child Support Guidelines and how they are applied
  • Evidence of biased judges and how this impacts their treatment of fathers
  • The impact of extremist feminist-based government-supported institutions
  • Speaking bans on men (fathers)
  • The impact of divorce on second-generation couples
  • Revoking licenses and jailing fathers for non-payment of support
  • The Family Responsibility Office (FRO – Canada)
  • Shattering the myths regarding standard of living post-divorce
video
 
it's not a justice system it's a legal it's not a justice system it's a legal it's not a justice system it's a legal system there's not much justice in it system there's not much justice in it system there's not much justice in it this family court you don't though this family court you don't though this family court you don't though she'll proof for anything you got a she'll proof for anything you got a she'll proof for anything you got a system that says you know what if you system that says you know what if you system that says you know what if you want to destroy the person that you now want to destroy the person that you now want to destroy the person that you now hate hey come on we'll help you out the hate hey come on we'll help you out the hate hey come on we'll help you out the problems are so expansive that when you problems are so expansive that when you problems are so expansive that when you put them off together the results are put them off together the results are put them off together the results are catastrophic Bobby's are expected to catastrophic Bobby's are expected to catastrophic Bobby's are expected to show their their family responsibilities show their their family responsibilities show their their family responsibilities not by looking after their children but not by looking after their children but not by looking after their children but by not looking after their children and by not looking after their children and by not looking after their children and paying somebody else to do so basically paying somebody else to do so basically paying somebody else to do so basically you're saying our fathers are not you're saying our fathers are not you're saying our fathers are not necessary to children this is a tragedy necessary to children this is a tragedy necessary to children this is a tragedy it's a national tragedy I'm going to be it's a national tragedy I'm going to be it's a national tragedy I'm going to be attempting to break the Guinness world attempting to break the Guinness world attempting to break the Guinness world record for the fastest crossing of record for the fastest crossing of record for the fastest crossing of Canada on selecting the Canadian family Canada on selecting the Canadian family Canada on selecting the Canadian family justice system is a societal cancer you justice system is a societal cancer you justice system is a societal cancer you don't get to reward it by solving don't get to reward it by solving don't get to reward it by solving problems or putting the family back problems or putting the family back problems or putting the family back together they get rewarded by the amount together they get rewarded by the amount together they get rewarded by the amount of effort and time they spent the of effort and time they spent the of effort and time they spent the product is as the people they need to product is as the people they need to product is as the people they need to solicit divorces if you will to create solicit divorces if you will to create solicit divorces if you will to create the financial churn

vote there man

sad that is not noticed it's sad that sad that is not noticed it's sad that sad that is not noticed it's sad that men's pain is not noticed not only is men's pain is not noticed not only is men's pain is not noticed not only is there a gender bias in the courts that's there a gender bias in the courts that's there a gender bias in the courts that's hurting children there's a gender bias hurting children there's a gender bias hurting children there's a gender bias with our government